Happy New Year

I had a marvellous 2013! The year really finished on a high for my SWEAT (South West Enfield Action Team) primary school campaign and for me personally. There were many ups and downs along the way, but I am a cup 1/2 full type of girl so I enjoy the roller coaster ride of life.

The SWEAT success came after just 9 months of campaigning for increased primary school places in the form of a proposal by Ashmole Academy for a primary school which is scheduled for September 2015. The proposed school is some way off, however the parent support that is needed for it to go ahead has been given by the local community. Members of the SWEAT group and I were busy distributing the Ashmole proposal to toddler groups, nurseries and libraries in December and our efforts have produced the desired result.

The campaign for primary school provision is not over and the 60 school places that Ashmole will provide yearly from 2015 will go someway to ease an increasing problem. Well done Ashmole. The school place requirement will not be satisfied by this proposal and SWEAT will continue to raise awareness in our aim to achieve more school places in the area.

On a personal note I am delighted to have passed Parliamentary Assessment Board and have been added onto the Conservative Party’s list of Approved Candidates. I am looking forward to a busy 2014 in politics.


Friends of Grovelands Park

I am a member of the Friends of Grovelands Park and I attended a general meeting this week. This year was Grovelands Park centenary and hundreds of people attended the celebrations in the park to make it a marvellous success.

I am surprised that there aren’t more members of this group to support and maintain this historic park. If you want to become more involved with the park and the Friends of Grovelands Park, they are actively seeking more members. Annual membership is £5 and their website is here http://www.n21.net/friends-of-grovelands-park-winchmore-hill-n21-london.html. The next meeting is Thursday 21st November 2013, 8pm at St Paul’s Church Hall.

At the FoG meeting we heard about Travellers being evicted from Edmonton and actively looking for a new place to set up in the Enfield area. I had a traveller knock at my door and ask if I wanted anything sharpened the day before the meeting. Does anyone get anything sharpened on their doorstep by gypsies anymore? Or is it a tactic to check whether anyone is at home? I didn’t feel safe.

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I had to speak out at the FoG meeting about SWEAT (South West Enfield Action Team) and our campaign. I clarified what we are trying to achieve and also what Enfield’s current proposals on the land adjacent to Grovelands are. The majority of FoG members have an open mind about the Grovelands proposals, I think that is because we are all waiting to see whether English Heritage says the concept is viable.

Some members, like me, have strong views, some in favour of a school and some against a school. If you support the school proposal please register your support on the SWEAT website  http://wewantlocalschools.wordpress.com/

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How to engage with the local community?

My family and I took a walk in Grovelands Park over the weekend. We had a lovely time visiting the playgrounds, watching the wildlife, playing ball and eating ice lollies.I met a lady with her 3 year old son who attends the playgroup that I also attend with my 2 year old twins and we enjoyed a catch up chat.

I mention this because as we chatted it became obvious that she did not know anything about the concept proposal by Enfield Council for a new school in the land adjacent to Grovelands Park. Admittedly these proposals are in the very early stages and it will not go ahead without the approval of English Heritage however this is something that directly affects this lady and her son and she has no knowledge of it. She will be applying for a primary school place this autumn and visits Grovelands Park recreationally.

How can we reach mothers with young children so that they are aware of news that they need to know of? I assume that details of this new school proposal will not go out in the School Pack that Enfield Council will provide to the parents of primary school aged children this year.

I know that many mothers use social networking, as I do, but do I find out information that I feel is life affecting through Twitter or Facebook? For me that is a resounding No.

I am a committee member of the Fox Lane and District Residents’ Association and we need to attract the younger community, such as young mothers to join up. When members join our association they receive a newsletter and weekly email updates of local news. News that mothers should know about such as schools, local projects and the like.

Unfortunately Residents’ Associations tend to attract mainly older citizens which means that the whole community is not represented and an emphasis is put on things that may not interest younger generations. On the plus side I can say that being a member of FLDRA makes me feel very young even though I am middle aged.

An issue does exist of how to engage with all members of the local community.


Grovelands Park Improvements Meeting

I attended a meeting held by Enfield Council proposing a new primary school in the land adjacent to Grovelands Park. I was invited as a key stakeholder because of my interest in Education and my campaign for increased Primary School Provision.

Members of the SWEAT (South West Enfield Action Team) group, created specifically to campaign for local children to go to local schools, and members of FLDRA (Fox Lane District Residents’ Association) also attended in support of the proposals.

Gary Barnes, Assistant Director, Regeneration, presented the concept proposed, a new 2 form entry primary school built in a style to compliment the neighbouring Priory building. The building would be set down in the land and with a green roof so that the vista from the park would not be disturbed. An excellent proposal that is much needed for the local community.

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Sweating for our children

The first meeting of the South West Enfield Action Team (or SWEAT) took place on Tuesday 25th June at my home. I met the other members of our newly formed group who are prepared to give up their free time and campaign for an issue that is so important to every parent, the education of our children.

In the Fox Lane area there are insufficient local school places and many of the parents are forced to transport their children to schools across the borough or have to resort to private education.

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Parents take action

The first meeting for the parent action group is scheduled for next Tuesday 25th June. There is a good deal to discuss:

  • The School Expansion Programme Phase 2 Report that was approved by Enfield Cabinet on 19th June
  • The setting of clear objectives for our group
  • The name of our group (my suggestion is SWEAT – South West Enfield Admissions Team, we’re sweating for our children)
  • When, where and the regularity of meetings
  • Analyse and understand the Council’s responses to questions raised at the meeting on Tuesday 30th April
  • Decide next steps

There are 6 members of the group at the moment and we would welcome further members. If you are interested in joining please use the Contact Us page on this website, wewantlocalschools.wordpress.com or Foxlane.net to get in touch with me.


Open Meeting Tuesday 30th April

I am organising an open meeting on Tuesday 30th April to debate Primary School Admissions. FLDRA (Fox Lane and District Residents’ Association) are facilitating the meeting of which I am a committee member.

In our residents’ association area there are insufficient Primary Schools and Primary School places. There is one good community school, Walker, which is Ofsted 1 and an Outstanding school. Many parents cheat to get their children into this school by taking out a short term let on the school’s doorstep and then moving once their child is in. Most admissions each year are siblings so someone who lives in Finsbury Park, for example, can send their 3 children to Walker School because of the Sibling criteria. Maybe the sibling criteria should be changed?

The meeting is in its early stages but if we get the buy-in from local and central representatives then we will have a panel to debate with. The meeting will have 2 parts:

  1. Understanding Central and Local Government Strategy on Primary School Admissions
  2. A forum for parents to express concerns, views and opinion

The details of the meeting can be taken on the website I have created for the Campaign We Want Local Schools.

More content to follow soon.


Planning permission and effect

Planning permission has been granted to build 3 new family homes in Bourne Hill, see http://foxlane.net/ planning message in FLDRA messages 31st January.

The plot was previously a car park opposite the entrance to Grovelands Park and  would have been used mainly by people going to the park. Is the sale of this plot of land for housing the best outcome for community property? The sale has brought the Council revenue for the short term but what will the long term effect be?
In this area and the nearby Lakes Estate Conservation Area there is a lack of school places both for primary education and secondary education. There is already a crises area in the centre of five or six community schools where children will not be admitted into a school near their home.
Enfield Council have a Primary School Expansion Programme to address this problem in areas all over Enfield however this is a reactive approach that will not resolve an ever growing problem, particularly as some of the proposed schools have objected and been withdrawn from the programme.

The Council receive a five year forecast from the GLA informing them of the number of Education admissions they will require year on year so there is no excuse for the LEA’s lack of forward planning.

There are two publicly owned buildings in Palmers Green that could be ideal for new schools, namely Southgate Town Hall  and Broomfield House. I am not so naive that I don’t understand why Council officers prefer housing opportunities in this old Civic building and this historic building as opposed to Education, and the answer is money.

Housing will bring in revenue and Education will bring expenditure.

Housing will demand increased services and Education will provide a service.

Housing will pollute and Education will be green, local children walking to their local school.

More long term planning please!

 


Change to A & AS Level

Michael Gove has confirmed that there will be changes to A levels in 2015 and that AS levels will no longer be part of the A level but will become a stand alone examination. This will make A levels like the linear examinations that have already been introduced at GCSE level.

The linear examinations are like the old “O” level where you studied a subject for two years and then sit an examination. This is in contrast to the modular examinations that have been retired where you studied a small section of the subject and then tested on that section before moving onto the next section;  all of these results would go on to the final result. If students had disappointing results in a module then they had the opportunity to re-take. In effect students should never of failed a modular examination. Making examinations linear should produce examination results that are real. When you compare the result of one student to another you will know that they have had the same conditions and therefore it is a truer comparison.

The age for leaving education is also changing and this year the leaving age is 17 years old; a change from 16 years old and it will change again in 2015 again to 18 years old. Students will have to stay at their school or another further education establishment such as college.

I think that a stand alone AS level may be a necessity as students have more years to study than students last year. However if students have to stay in education until they are 18 years old why would you select to take AS level over A level?


Poorer families without internet

The ONS (Office of National Statistics) has published statistics that show that a 1/3 of poorer families in the UK have no internet access at home. This translates to approximately 750,000 homes without internet.

When I was at school I had to go to the library to research my homework or project work. Now if I or any of my family need to research anything Google is our first

stop. Anyone without a computer or internet is seriously disadvantaged. Admittedly students can still gain internet access from schools, libraries, internet cafes, coffee shops and more. I still think that the ease of access by having a computer and internet access readily available at home is far superior to having to seek it out.

One of my daughters went to the library last Wednesday because there were too many distractions at home for her to get on with her uni work. She went to Winchmore Hill library first and found it closed so then she went to Palmers Green library which was also closed. She had to satisfy her need by shutting herself away in her room at home with us noiseys. My point is that she wasted an hour trying to find somewhere quiet to study with internet access and had to settle for home in the end which she was trying to avoid.


Everyone over the age of 12 has a phone these days and you can get internet access from your phone however there is a difference in quick access from a phone to researching project work.I think that education is the key to better society so we need to provide our youth with the tools to improve their education. I know that most schools will provide additional support if needed and we need to make it easy for them to get the access needed.